I read with interest your editorial "Fair Play for Older Workers" (June 25), dealing with the unfairness of the Social Security retirement earnings test. As I travel around the country as commissioner of Social Security, I am acutely aware of how strongly the public feels about the inequity of the earnings test provisions.
And, I could not agree more. The earnings test is really a misnomer. It is not a test at all. Rather, it is a penalty--a penalty that retirees pay for working. The only thing it really tests is the patience of those who must suffer its provisions. The reality of the earnings test is that it can result in a marginal tax rate that can reach as high as 100 percent for affected individuals.
It seems only fair that people should have the freedom and opportunity to work and earn as much as they choose without the worry of reduced Social Security. This is particularly true since there is no penalty for Social Security beneficiaries who receive large amounts of income from dividends and interest.
It is time I believe to confront this issue squarely so that America can utilize a sizeable, talented work force that is ready, willing, and able to contribute to our national economy.
I applaud you for raising this important issue for public debate.
DORCAS R. HARDY
Commissioner of Social Security